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When Did Work Ethic Become Virtually Extinct?

Yesterday, I was reminded once again why it’s so hard for me to pay people to help me with anything around my house. Work ethic, for the most part, seems to be a thing of the past, which means that I’ll just end up having to do the jobs myself anyway. Here’s what happened.

I finally made the decision to hire a handyman to help with small- to medium-sized projects around the house that I just don’t seem to be able to work into my schedule. I made a long list that included things like finishing the faux stone skirting on the front porch

Other things on the list include moving all of the desktop-level outlets and switches up about three inches in the studio

Since I changed my plans and decided to go with IKEA cabinets instead of built-from-scratch cabinets, the desktop is going to be about three inches higher than I had originally planned, which means that all of the outlets need to be raised to make room for a higher countertop.

Other things on my list include small things like rehanging a shutter (one of these that I made a while back) that fell during a storm with high winds, and installing two outdoor outlets, and installing the lights in the carport so that the beadboard ceiling can finally be installed and finished.

About four weeks ago, my mom was over at my house helping me with some things, and she called a handyman to come to my house to haul things away. He came and got half of it, and then texted me to see if I could go ahead and pay him since he had to pay to take the things to the landfill. And then he said he’d be back the next day to get the rest. I went ahead and paid him since he had done work for me before (just installing a toilet) and he seemed like a nice guy. But then he never came back the next day, and now four weeks later, he still hasn’t come back.

Like I said, this was actually a guy who had installed a toilet for me a while back. While he was here that first time, I showed him some other projects I’d like for him to do. He gave me a price and said that he would get back to me soon to schedule the work. That was probably a year ago, and I never heard back from him.

So obviously, I wasn’t going to call him to do more work. I ended up putting a request on Nextdoor, making it clear that I’m a perfectionist 😀 and wanted someone who was conscientious and took pride in their work, and who actually had time to do the work. Almost immediately, I got two or three responses from men offering their services, and almost immediately after that, I started getting private messages from people (mostly widowed women, as far as I can tell) warning me about one particular handyman.

The common theme of their stories is that he’s a very nice man, but he makes promises that he doesn’t keep. He may say that a job will only take a few days, but then he doesn’t show up when he’s supposed to, or he drops off other people to do the work who don’t really have the skills for the job, and 45 days later, the job is still not finished.

I skipped right over that handyman and looked at the rest. One in particular stood out to me, so I called him. On the phone, he seemed very nice, professional, and organized. We set an appointment for yesterday at 3:30, and I could hear him typing all of my contact info and address into what sounded like a laptop computer. I was so hopeful!

So yesterday, I made sure that I was ready and waiting in the living room at about 3:20 so that I wouldn’t miss him. I waited. And waited. And waited more. By 4:00, he still wasn’t there, so I gave up waiting and changed into my work clothes so that I could start working on the studio. I was furious. And I honestly wouldn’t have been bothered by him being late if only he had communicated with me! But he just left me sitting there wondering if and when he was going to show up.

At about 4:15, I got a message from him through Nextdoor saying, “I think we had an appointment at 3:30 today. Call me and we can reschedule.” Ummm…what? There was no explanation of why he didn’t show. There was only an assumption that I’d be willing to reschedule. I just responded and said, “I’m afraid I don’t have time to wait around for people who don’t respect my time and no-show for appointments. My time is also valuable.”

I just don’t understand why this is such a common and acceptable thing with contractors and handymen. And I’m not so much frustrated for my own sake, although it does make me angry when people don’t show since I rearrange my schedule around them. But as far as the work goes, I’m still young-ish, and I’m a very capable DIYer who has the ability to do all of these projects myself. I was just wanting to hire them out for the convenience, and so that things can get finished faster.

But I’m especially frustrated on behalf of those older women and widows who wrote to me and shared their experiences. I know that for each one that contacted me, there are many more who have similar stories. I’m sure that they’re not DIYers who are capable of getting those jobs done themselves. They’re actually counting on other people to do them, and if those people don’t show up, the jobs don’t get done. I feel so bad for those women. I wish I could go over and help them myself. It is a terrible feeling to be at the mercy of someone who has made commitments, but doesn’t seem to give a care in the world about other people’s time, or promises made, or schedules, or anything like that.

I just can’t wrap my head around it. And I know that probably every single one of you has a similar story about how a handyman or contractor didn’t show, didn’t do the job right, didn’t seem to care about promises made, didn’t seem to care about the quality of work done, didn’t stick to a schedule, showed up hours late without contacting you to let you know when they’d be there, and the list goes on and on. I truly don’t understand what has happened to make these things so acceptable now. What happened to work ethic, and how do we get back to that?

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